Man’s brush with death highlights importance of first aid training

CALGARY- Six employees whose quick-thinking saved the life of a Calgary man were honoured for their actions on Friday.

Earlier this month, Ayaz Kara was playing squash at Mount Royal University’s recreation centre, when he suddenly felt dizzy and out of breath.

“The last I remember after that is basically collapsing,” says Kara. “My heart stopped, I turned blue and purple.”

Student Michael Dubnyk was the first to respond, beginning CPR on the 53-year-old.

“It’s just instinct, you know, it’s like muscle memory,” Dubnyk says. “You come in, you start doing the chest compressions, and the rest is history.”

Word of the what was happened spread quickly, and first aid instructor Paul Hunka raced to the scene to help.

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“I’ve taught it many times, I’ve done many courses with it, but never had it firsthand like this,” he said.

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As the men continued to compress Kara’s chest, a MRU supervisor grabbed an automated external defibrillator (AED), hooked it up to Kara and shocked him twice.

“He kind of reached up for my hands, and I was like, ‘OK,’ and I turned to Paul and said ‘I think he’s responding,’” Bjorn Billehaug recalls.

By the time EMS arrived at the school, three other people had also jumped in to help.

“Time is absolutely crucial,” says Stuart Brideaux from EMS, of the group’s valiant efforts. “It’s suggested that for every minute that your heart is not beating and your brain is not receiving oxygen, it decreases your survivability by about 10 per cent.”

Kara spent several days recovering in hospital, but on Friday he was well enough to thank the people who saved his life in person.

“They’re angels in my eyes, they really are, because they saved me,” he said. “Honestly, if it wasn’t for them and their dedication, the continuous work they did on me, I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you today.”

In a strange twist of fate, Kara himself performed CPR on somebody in December, following a crash on Deerfoot Trail.

The businessman is now paying it forward by donating five defibrillators, which have become more popular in recent years as the price comes down. There are currently about 1,400 AEDs registered in Alberta.


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